An Open Letter To My Little Sister, An Incoming College Freshman


I have a little sister and her name is Tabitha. She’s a senior in high school and committed to DePauw University for the fall, intent on studying Political Science and Criminal Justice — big dreams for such a young girl. I remember my senior year in high school like it was yesterday rather than four years ago. Bound for the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, I was determined to become an award-winning journalist for National Geographic magazine — I wanted to travel the world and write for a living. Again, big dreams for such a young girl.

But now, that’s all changed. Not only have my career goals altered, but I have also changed as a woman. During college I’ve experienced some of the best moments of my life, but also some of the worst. I have been continually forced to grow and adapt, to mature and develop. I’ve fallen in love with myself, but I’ve also despised my personality at times. I’ve befriended phenomenal women, but I’ve also lost a few friends along the way. I’ve had my heart broken. Many times. But, I am better person because of it all. So, this letter is to my little sister, but also to all the other little sisters and big sisters and even brothers who will be leaving the nest next year to test the wild and independent winds of college life.

So, as you finish the final weeks of your last semester of high school, here are a few lessons that I wish somebody had taught me four years ago. Please learn from my mistakes and live your lives with a passionate purpose in mind:

If you hate a class, drop it.

For me, that class was “French Phonetics.” I sat in French Phonetics every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, willing myself not to cry with frustration. I spent hours — literally, hours — each night on my homework, but could never do better than a C. I have a deep fear of failure, so the thought of giving up was torture. But, after a long talk with my mom, I decided to drop the class and I never looked back.

2 true friends are worth infinitely more than 20 fake friends.

College is a strange time of life where friends are more than just friends — they are family. And if your friend doesn’t treat you like a genuinely concerned sibling or parent, then they’re not your friend. True friends want the best for each other, always. True friends are honest and open, and never worry about the consequences of speaking their minds. With a true friend, you can be your true self, free from judgement or self-doubt.

If a boy texts you at 2 a.m. to “hang out,” he doesn’t actually like you.

Believe me. I’ve worried and wondered enough for all of us. Don’t set your sights on a man who doesn’t think the world of you, because that’s what you’re worth. Easier said than done, but use your good sense as a girl and always trust your gut.

Never drink diluted vodka.

The 2-day hangover isn’t worth the few dollars saved.

Drugs aren’t cool. Neither are people who do them.

I try to live life by a simple rule — if I wouldn’t want my future daughter to do something, then I try not to do it. It’s really that simple. Never give up your personal values in order to be “cool” or impress the people around you. Stay true to yourself and do your utmost to be the best you can be.

Read as much as you possibly can about the Universe.

There’s nothing more exhilarating than the discovery that we are all infinitely unimportant. That simple fact alone is often enough to put life in perspective.

Travel while in college.

Borrow money. Fundraise from family and friends. Do all that you can to see the world on your own while you are young and able to do so. Learning about the world and all the crazy amazing people in it will help you to develop a unique character of your own.

Form original opinions. Always speak your mind.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far in life, it’s that intelligence will always be in style. There’s nothing more attractive than an engaging conversation, and being able to adequately lend your voice in a productive and educated matter is so important to your overall success not just professionally, but personally too.

I am so excited for you all as you prepare to embark on this next adventure. College has no doubt been the best four years of my life, but I am also ready to see what post-grad life has in store for me. It’s never too late to grow up, and I am convinced that I will continue to learn, grow, and develop all the days of my life. And there’s no time to start like now.